Why do I have to take "Calc-Based Physics"as a Math major?

  • #1
Integreat
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Hi, why do I have to take calculus based physics, if I'm a math major? I don't mind taking algebra based physics like i did in high school. But WHYYYY calc based physics? Any wise man out there mind to give a piece of advice? I never find interests in physics, how well I will do if I just know something like: F=ma, p=mv, and basic physics equations as such? is higher level physics hard?
 
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  • #2
symbolipoint
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You will like the Calculus-based Physics courses more than the Algebra-based kind, especially if you're a Math major. Why would you want the weaker set? You may need to derive some relationships as part of the learning-exercises, and Calculus as a tool should fit your interests very well.
 
  • #3
Integreat
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You will like the Calculus-based Physics courses more than the Algebra-based kind, especially if you're a Math major. Why would you want the weaker set? You may need to derive some relationships as part of the learning-exercises, and Calculus as a tool should fit your interests very well.
I could understand the point of "taking the harder." But my previous with physics didn't went down that well. I can derive math equations, not physics though. having trouble applying math in gen.physics at my high schools. I have so far completed Calc II. but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me. o0)
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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I could understand the point of "taking the harder." But my previous with physics didn't went down that well. I can derive math equations, not physics though. having trouble applying math in gen.physics at my high schools. I have so far completed Calc II. but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me. o0)
You want Physics? You will learn and use Calculus, greater Algebra than just intermediate, Trigonometry of various complexity, some Linear Algebra, and vectors and Calculus. Physics does not come without Calculus. Derivatives and Integrals are used for expressing things about Physics.
 
  • #5
Fervent Freyja
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but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me. o0)

A mathematics major passing up the opportunity to have fun sounds a bit iffy to me... Taking it with Calculus will deepen your understanding of algebra and calculus by working through so many problems in the textbook that have real-life applications.
 
  • #6
gmax137
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Hi, why do I have to take calculus based physics, if I'm a math major?

Who told you that you "have" to take calc based physics? Or any physics at all? If you have no interest in physics why would you take it?

Now, if someone recommended that IF you take physics, THEN it should by calculus-based, well that makes sense to me and probably to anyone else here.
 
  • #7
max1995
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I could understand the point of "taking the harder." But my previous with physics didn't went down that well. I can derive math equations, not physics though. having trouble applying math in gen.physics at my high schools. I have so far completed Calc II. but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me. o0)

Either thats a joke or you don't know anything about physics aha the fundamentals of physics relie on calculus, I use calculus every day in my physics degree (and many other areas of maths)
 
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  • #8
Integreat
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will deepen your understanding of algebra and calculus by working through so many problems in the textbook that have real-life applications.

I dunno about that, consider I did a lot of analytic studies on calculus and algebra. and math isnt about application, it's the beauty behind it.
What my main concern is why i have to take it as a math major, and if i do, is it gonna be hard? as it is mandatory course to obtain my associate degree, so far.
 
  • #9
MarneMath
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Because there's never any harm in forcing yourself to learn how your math can be applied to real world scenarios. In college, I loved optimization. I really loved a lot of the theory and I could study it all day. However, it wasn't until I met a researcher in the corporate world when I truly began to appreciate the power of the methods and theory I was learning. Knowing theory is neat, learning how to take that theory and apply it to messy real world events is powerful. It's a skill you will have to learn eventually in life, so you might as well start early.
 
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  • #10
Andy Resnick
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Hi, why do I have to take calculus based physics, if I'm a math major?

Probably because it's a required course. If you are not happy with that, complain to your department.
 
  • #11
atyy
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Hi, why do I have to take calculus based physics, if I'm a math major? I don't mind taking algebra based physics like i did in high school. But WHYYYY calc based physics? Any wise man out there mind to give a piece of advice? I never find interests in physics, how well I will do if I just know something like: F=ma, p=mv, and basic physics equations as such? is higher level physics hard?

You will find it very hard unless you also know that ##a = d^{2}x/dt^{2}## and ##v = dx/dt##.

Incidentally, I prefer to remember ##F= dp/dt## instead of ##F = ma##.
 
  • #12
axmls
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Why would you learn the violin and never listen to a symphony?:biggrin:

Kidding aside, calculus-based physics is so different than algebra based physics that I personally don't even think algebra-based physics should exist. No one develops a great intuition for physics from algebra, but people do so with calculus. Newton developed calculus to solve problems in physics. You realize things like all those constant acceleration kinematics equations come from Newton's second law, ##F = m \ d^2 x/ dt^2##. You can actually understand the relationship between acceleration, velocity, and displacement using the derivative. You learn why, historically, certain mathematics concepts came about. You'll also find that (well, at the higher levels), there is a surprising amount of beautiful mathematics in physics.
 
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  • #13
Eclair_de_XII
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I have so far completed Calc II. but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me.

Dude, my situation is so similar to yours, that it's not even funny. Nonetheless, I will also benefit from reading the advice given in this topic.
 
  • #14
Choppy
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The first thing to keep in mind is that you don't *have* to take calculus-based physics. If you really don't want to, then I'm sure you could find a program somewhere that doesn't have this as a requirement. You are *choosing* this program. Taking calculus-based physics is an aspect of the program that you are experiencing some trepidation about. That's understandable - particularly if you've had a negative experience with high school physics.

With regards to the reason why it's a good idea for a math major to take physics, the answer should be fairly obvious. No science is done in isolation, and any school that does not encourage a foundational understanding in tangential fields is doing you a major disservice. If you go far enough in your studies of mathematics you'll need to eventually justify why your studies are worth someone paying you to do them. Understanding real-world applications is a necessary part of that.

Secondly, I'm not sure it's possible to really understand math without at least an introductory level understanding of physics. This will allow you to appreciate the history of mathematics and why certain problems were postulated and solved when they were.
 
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  • #15
MidgetDwarf
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I question whether you have the ability to pursue a math degree. Mathematics is not solely using an algorithm to solve trivial problems. Most likely, up till now, all your math classes consisted of plugging and chugging. You believe you were good at math, because you can get an A on a superficial test. You question whether intro physics is hard. This is an absurd question coming from someone majoring in mathematics. Math is hard, so is physics. If you are not a genius, don't mind only getting 3 hours of sleep during a semester, and sometimes receiving a bad grade after trying your all, then I am afraid Mathematics is not for you.

There is beauty in everything. The problem is how things are presented. I once disliked physics, but having taken an introduction to electricity and magnetism, I found it beautiful. Studying physics has given me better intuition, problem solving skills, and a means to condense what I know into analogies. The analogy part is important. As a math major, I was infatuated with rigor. I began to realize that yes, rigor is important, but there has to be a balance with intuition. Math gives me rigor and Physics intuition.

Physics can also help you understand some ideas and previous math classes under a different light.
 
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  • #16
phyzguy
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I have so far completed Calc II. but applying calc to physics sounds a bit iffy to me. o0)

Since calculus was invented by Newton and Leibnitz to solve physics problems, I fail to see how applying calculus to physics could be "iffy".
 
  • #17
ZapperZ
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I dunno about that, consider I did a lot of analytic studies on calculus and algebra. and math isnt about application, it's the beauty behind it.
What my main concern is why i have to take it as a math major, and if i do, is it gonna be hard? as it is mandatory course to obtain my associate degree, so far.

How about you ask this very question to your academic advisor?

Zz.
 
  • #18
Eclair_de_XII
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If you are not a genius, don't mind only getting 3 hours of sleep during a semester, and sometimes receiving a bad grade after trying your all, then I am afraid Mathematics is not for you.

That sounds rough...
 
  • #19
axmls
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That sounds rough...

And I disagree with it completely. If you're only getting 3 hours of sleep a night, then that will hurt you far more than the extra studying will help. It is possible to major in a difficult subject, do well, and have a social life without sacrificing all your sleep.
 
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  • #20
micromass
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And I disagree with it completely. If you're only getting 3 hours of sleep a night, then that will hurt you far more than the extra studying will help. It is possible to major in a difficult subject, do well, and have a social life without sacrificing all your sleep.

Right. I have very rarely went without a good night sleep in my undergraduate years.

That said, physics is absolutely crucial when it comes to math. You want to be a good mathematician, then I'm afraid you'll need to know some physics. Somebody who can't or doesn't want to do a simple calc based physics course doesn't deserve being called a mathematician. So much math makes so much more sense with some physics background!
 
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  • #21
MidgetDwarf
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And I disagree with it completely. If you're only getting 3 hours of sleep a night, then that will hurt you far more than the extra studying will help. It is possible to major in a difficult subject, do well, and have a social life without sacrificing all your sleep.

This is very common. A majority of students are working students, and there only financial support may be financial aid. I have been getting at max 5 hours, but 3 hours is the norm. This is while working atleast 30 hours a week and going to school as a full time student. Some students are average at best, so they need to study more. Math and Science is hard, but not impossible. My belief is that if you don't understand something, you have not put in enough time.I know 20 other students in the same situation. This is in America. I know that Micromass is from Europe, where the government offers more services and quality universities are cheaper. Not so much the case in America.

The point I tried to make, is that the OP is complaining about taking Physics as a Math major. It is minor compared to other stuff that awaits him in his future studies. So if he's complaining now, then he should not bother majoring in mathematics.
 
  • #22
axmls
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My belief is that if you don't understand something, you have not put in enough time

Far too often, people think that studying longer = more knowledge, but that's just not true. It's possible to study half the time you usually do with many subjects by finding a study method that works better for you. Yes, there's some baseline that you need to study, but it's possible to study smarter. I also disagree that it takes a genius to major in math, or even that it takes a genius to be a mathematician, but that's another topic.
 
  • #23
Eclair_de_XII
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A majority of students are working students, and their only financial support may be financial aid. I have been getting at max 5 hours, but 3 hours is the norm. This is while working at least 30 hours a week and going to school as a full time student.

Oh, so three hours a sleep would apply to working students... I see. For a minute there, I kind of panicked. But I'll just worry about those other two things you listed.
 
  • #24
MidgetDwarf
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Far too often, people think that studying longer = more knowledge, but that's just not true. It's possible to study half the time you usually do with many subjects by finding a study method that works better for you. Yes, there's some baseline that you need to study, but it's possible to study smarter. I also disagree that it takes a genius to major in math, or even that it takes a genius to be a mathematician, but that's another topic.

I did not word my sentence correctly, forgive. What I was trying to say was the following. Not many people are of the genius capability. That is ok, because their is a misconception regarding the belief that only smart people can prosper in STEM. What is important is having a strong will to major in mathematics, or any scientific field. What I mean by a strong will, is developing a good work ethic and not being discouraged when things do not go as planned. An honest curiosity of why and hard work is what is important. Not being "genius."

The OP was complaining about taking physics as a math major. He later questioned if physics was hard. This is not a great question to ask if someone is majoring in mathematics..
 
  • #25
symbolipoint
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MidgetDwarf said:
The OP was complaining about taking physics as a math major. He later questioned if physics was hard. This is not a great question to ask if someone is majoring in mathematics..

That is a problem of either lack of experience or not enough experience. A Mathematics-major student WILL want the Calculus based Physics courses and will very likely do well, although still with some hard work. The Mathematics courses INCLUDING Calculus will serve the student extremely well.
 
  • #26
Integreat
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I question whether you have the ability to pursue a math degree. Mathematics is not solely using an algorithm to solve trivial problems. Most likely, up till now, all your math classes consisted of plugging and chugging. You believe you were good at math, because you can get an A on a superficial test.
That's not true, I don't just get As on tests and believed I'm good at math, math is about understanding the concept and the nature of it, and becoming one with mathematics. I don't just take formulas and memorize it, I investigate "WHY." i.e. Why do we use integration by substitution when integrating a differentiated composite function--i like the analysis of mathematics. If you just merely memorizing formulas, that's NOT real learning of mathematics. You're right, currently my math curriculum are consist of "plug and chug" but i believe once i get into analysis--I will understand why we plug and chug--it's just the matter of time. As for physics... Mathematicians don't study math because it's "useful", I doubt Physics will help me understand math more-- as physicists viewed mathematics as nothing but a mere tool.

Anyhow, my main concern, once again-- is not how physics will help me understand math, but rather how much harder is calc- based physics compared to alg-base physics--and will I do fine if I start from scratch without any background knowledge about physics.
 
  • #27
symbolipoint
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Integreat, none of this is correct.
...currently my math curriculum are consist of "plug and chug" but i believe once i get into analysis--I will understand why we plug and chug--it's just the matter of time. As for physics... Mathematicians don't study math because it's "useful", I doubt Physics will help me understand math more-- as physicists viewed mathematics as nothing but a mere tool.
All of that is wrong.
You yourself really need the sequence of Physics courses for the STEM people.
 
  • #28
Integreat
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Somebody who can't or doesn't want to do a simple calc based physics course doesn't deserve being called a mathematician

I'm afraid I have to disagree, there are a handful of elite Mathematicians doesn't have Physics knowledge/background. It is absurd to even say someone doesnt deserve to be a mathematicians, just because their lack of interest in Physics. With all due respect, I believed those who only cares about the applications of Mathematics, doesn't deserve to be a Mathematician-- considering they only viewed math as a mere tool. No offense, here is just my $0.02.
 
  • #29
symbolipoint
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Your response to micromass message:
I'm afraid I have to disagree, there are a handful of elite Mathematicians doesn't have Physics knowledge/background. It is absurd to even say someone doesnt deserve to be a mathematicians, just because their lack of interest in Physics. With all due respect, I believed those who only cares about the applications of Mathematics, doesn't deserve to be a Mathematician-- considering they only viewed math as a mere tool. No offense, here is just my $0.02.
Very misguided. You really, really, very much NEED the sequence of Physics courses for the S.T.E.M. major-field students.
 
  • #30
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Anyhow, my main concern, once again-- is not how physics will help me understand math, but rather how much harder is calc- based physics compared to alg-base physics--and will I do fine if I start from scratch without any background knowledge about physics.
This is really absurd. You're a math student! Math isn't easy and if you're going to be scared of only a calc-based introductory mechanics course, you're going to be terrified at more advanced courses that are waiting for you on the way!
And come on...you really think taking just one such course is going too deep in physics than necessary for you?!...this is even more absurd. Its not like refusing to going inside a pet shop to buy a pet, its like refusing to look at the pet shop even once from a far distance because you just suppose you'll never want a pet. Just look at the shop for once(take this course), then if you didn't like any of the pets you've seen, don't go inside(don't take more advanced physics courses!).
 
  • #31
Integreat
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This is really absurd. You're a math student! Math isn't easy and if you're going to be scared of only a calc-based introductory mechanics course, you're going to be terrified at more advanced courses that are waiting for you on the way!
And come on...you really think taking just one such course is going too deep in physics than necessary for you?!...this is even more absurd. Its not like refusing to going inside a pet shop to buy a pet, its like refusing to look at the pet shop even once from a far distance because you just suppose you'll never want a pet. Just look at the shop for once(take this course), then if you didn't like any of the pets you've seen, don't go inside(don't take more advanced physics courses!).

Alright, I guess I'll give it a try. The reason is that the course was offered online, and I have absolutely no physics background other than General Physics at high school (which consist of applying formulas w/o understanding why). That's why I wondered if i will have the same problem problem in that class.
 
  • #32
Integreat
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Your response to micromass message:

Very misguided. You really, really, very much NEED the sequence of Physics courses for the S.T.E.M. major-field students.

I suppose...
 
  • #33
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Alright, I guess I'll give it a try. The reason is that the course was offered online, and I have absolutely no physics background. That's why I wondered if i will have a problem in that class.
You said you've already had a alg-based physics course. What other background do you think may be needed?
This is basic physics, this is the background itself!
But maybe you have problem with the course being online and you like courses where you're present in the class. That's a different story!
 
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  • #34
Integreat
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You said you've already had a alg-based physics course. What other background do you think may be needed?
Well, the fact is, general physics made absolutely no sense to me in high school, i barely survived with a B- by doing a lot of hand outs without UNDERSTANDING why. i.e. why force is F=ma. my teacher just threw a list of formula and tell me to apply it. that's why I dont know if calc-based physics would be the same. It was a nightmare in gen. phys.
 
  • #35
Mondayman
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General Physics at high school (which consist of applying formulas w/o understanding why)
Introducing calculus into the physics will alleviate this problem.

Some of the most important mathematical developments came from the demands of physics, so it seems logical to have an introductory mechanics course. This is mandatory at my school for math majors, taken alongside first year calculus.
 
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